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Beyond Mobile Money: The Future of Asia's Fintech The latest crop of fintech companies to arise in Asia Pacific illustrates the many ways the space can help consumers beyond just their mobile wallet

By Jun Tagama

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Mobile money has been the hottest sector in financial technology for the last few years: many of the region's top tech companies are vying to be the wallet of choice for consumers. But fintech is more than just how people store money and transact—the space is much more horizontal, cutting across how we create, share, and protect value.

The latest crop of fintech companies to arise in Asia Pacific illustrates the many ways the space can help consumers beyond just their mobile wallet. It is important for all entrepreneurs to be aware of these trends, as their success opens up all sorts of possibilities for companies to partner, collaborate, and work with them. And, on a much deeper level, new fintechs may shape consumer expectations in even other tech industries, like e-commerce, ride-hailing, and the on-demand economy. Here are the three major fintech trends that may define Asia's future.

The Smartphone emerges as a Credit-scoring Standard: With close to half a billion unbanked consumers in Southeast Asia alone, there is an entire industry of fintechs dedicated to finding ways to accurately determine their credit-worthiness to give them access to finance. Unfortunately, since they don't have bank accounts, such fintechs cannot rely on traditional financial information like a FICO score or credit card payments. They must instead turn to alternative sources.

One credit scoring sources emerging as a new standard in the field is smartphone-based credit scoring. Smartphone-based credit scoring has galvanised broad global support, including from the likes of the World Bank. In one of its reports, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) even stated that mobile data was a key to financial inclusion, as it could improve customer profiling, and, in turn, get an access to credit.

AI combines with the Wisdom of the Crowd: The most common buzzword in today's tech headlines is the "artificial intelligence" (AI). Readers are fascinated with how AI has the potential to transform every consumer and enterprise industry. While such focus is appropriate that AI will definitely change the world, it leaves out a crucial element that will go hand-in-hand with its rise: the wisdom of the crowd.

The Uninsured becomes the next Unbanked: Outside of the unbanked, another major under-served group is uninsured and the underinsured. There is a massive insurance gap in the region. Compared to the global average of 6.3 per cent, ASEAN's rate of insurance penetration is just at 3.4 per cent of the GDP. To put this in human terms, people in Southeast Asia don't have enough or any insurance to protect their families from calamities—large and small—including everything from health emergencies and sudden deaths to natural disasters. Because of this insurance gap, a simple emergency, such as a hospitalisation of a family member, can bankrupt an entire family and throw them into debt. Yet, many people still avoid availing of insurance because it is cost-prohibitive.

Jun Tagama

Founder, Bookaka

Jun Tagama is a stock and crypo trader, founder of Bookaka and programmer at Visa Singapore.
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